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Asian giant hornets

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‘Murder hornets’ get name change to avoid reinforcing anti-Asian sentiments

  • American and Canadian entomologists changed the common name of the “Asian giant hornet” to "northern giant hornet."
  • The Entomological Society of America (ESA) said in a press release on Monday that it adopted the new common name for the species Vespa mandarinia to avoid potential discrimination against the Asian community amid the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes.
  • Although the “Asian” descriptor in the insect's former common name was “geographically accurate” and not “at all pejorative,” it could still unintentionally reinforce anti-Asian sentiments since the northern giant hornet tends to inspire fear, Chris Looney, the author of the name change proposal, said.
  • The ESA adopted new guidelines in 2021 for choosing acceptable common names for insects, and geographic references and ethnic and racial groups can no longer be used in names as they “might stoke fear.”
  • The invasive insects previously referred to as “murder hornets,” a term derided by many entomologists, started trending in 2020 after a New York Times article revealed that the hornets could potentially decimate bee populations.

Entomologists in the United States and Canada have changed the common name of the “Asian giant hornet” to “northern giant hornet” to avoid reinforcing discrimination against the Asian community.

In a press release on Monday, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) said it adopted the new common name for the species Vespa mandarinia in its Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List amid the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes.